There are understandable concerns about traveling abroad due to the various international tensions and security alerts but provided you are fully prepared and informed, the odds are still very high that you will have a safe and incident-free trip.
There is unfortunately always the potential prospect of tourists becoming victims of crime and violence generally, or experiencing unexpected and unforeseen difficulties.
You should always remember that there are consular officers who work in more in embassies around the globe and they are there to offer assistance to the citizens of their country who are in distress and need to call upon the help of someone who is used to receiving such calls on a daily basis.
The vast majority of issues can often be resolved over the phone if you get into difficulties while traveling abroad and might even end up in hospital, prison or any other relevant scenario where you need some assistance.
It is worth remembering that this help exists in most corners of the world if you need assistance, but there are also plenty of ways you can prepare for your trip so that your odds improve of having a pleasant and safe trip abroad without incident.
Before you leave
Safety begins from the moment you start to pack. In order to avoid becoming a potential target, consider your choice of clothing and aim to avoid dressing in a way that could mark you out as an affluent tourist. Wearing expensive-looking jewelry, for example, can soon draw the wrong attention.
Always aim to travel light. This will not just help you to move around more quickly but it will also help at security check-in’s and also reduce the risk of you losing some possessions, by leaving them unattended.
You should carry the minimum number of valuables possible and plan places to conceal them.
Your passport, cash and credit cards are normally most secure when locked in a hotel safe, so try to take a daily amount with you each day and keep the rest of your cash and valuables locked up. Invest in a secure bag or pouch that allows you to keep your money out of reach.
When passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers and bring copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor confirming your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country before you travel.
Do a bit of research
It is always worth doing a bit of research on the country you are visiting before you go. As well as searching out places of interest to visit, it is worth checking out any fundamental differences in local laws and cultures, in comparison to what you are used to.
Having a basic level of understanding of these customs and laws can help avoid a potential problem in the first place.
Check out what existing insurance cover you have and whether your personal property insurance covers you for loss or theft abroad. Also, check on whether your health insurance covers you abroad.
It is always advisable to take out specific travel insurance that provides you with a level of protection and compensation if you suffer a loss of possessions or have a health problem while abroad.
It is understandable that you will want to explore while on your holiday but do aim to take sensible precautions when traveling in unfamiliar surroundings and locations.
Avoid short-cuts or poorly lit streets and always be vigilant with your personal possessions, as pickpockets are found in many well-known tourist areas.
Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially cautious in (or avoid) areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods.
If you are confronted by an attacker, it is always better to avoid a fight and give up your valuables rather than risk more serious consequences.
When you research the country you are visiting, you are more than likely to find specific security advice regarding known methods of targeting tourists and how to avoid becoming a potential victim.
If you take a taxi, only use one with official markings and try to use public transport like trains and buses at regular times, rather than late at night. If you hire a car, you should also be aware that foreign motorists can fall victim to a number of scams and robberies, so be wary of anyone flagging you down or approaching the car
In many places frequented by tourists, including areas of southern Europe, victimization of motorists has been refined to an art. Where it is a problem, U.S. embassies are aware of it and consular officers try to work with local authorities to warn the public about the dangers. In some locations, these efforts at public awareness have paid off, reducing the frequency of incidents. You may also wish to ask your rental car agency for advice on avoiding robbery while visiting tourist destinations.
Carjackers and thieves operate at gas stations, parking lots, in city traffic and along the highway. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or tries to get your attention when you are in or near your car.
Avoiding legal difficulties
Always remember that you are subject to the local laws of the country you are staying in and what might be considered legal or a minor infraction in your own country, could result in serious legal difficulties in another jurisdiction.
Drug violations account for a large percentage of incarcerations and even taking photographs in certain areas might not be permitted in some countries.
It is always best policy to familiarize yourself with the legal expectations of the country you are visiting, so that you can avoid not just ruining your holiday but potentially serious consequences that might follow your arrest.